Marie-Amélie is a legal scholar and historian whose work focuses on the American LGBT rights movement. She is the Berger-Howe Fellow in Legal History at Harvard Law School and a PhD candidate in History at Yale University.
Marie-Amélie’s scholarship focuses on the legal history of LGBT rights. She analyzes both how and why laws have changed, as well as the ways in which history can provide insight into current legal debates and contemporary normative questions. She examines the comparative benefits of different legal forums, focusing as much on administrative bureaucracy and legislation at the state and local levels as on litigation in federal courts. Her work concentrates on how the LGBT rights movement has radically reshaped professional, social, and legal norms. It not only reveals diffuse sources of legislative and jurisprudential change, but also uncovers mechanisms through which advocates have and can continue to transform the law. The questions driving her scholarship are thus both historical and normative, as she engages with the past to inform present-day legal debates and strategies.
Her dissertation project, entitled “Deviant Justice: The Transformation of Gay and Lesbian Rights in America,” analyzes how American law moved from a regime that criminalized consensual sodomy in all fifty states in 1960 to one in which gays and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry in 2015. Her arguments are based on analyses of legal contests at the state and local levels, where laws shaped conceptions of gays and lesbians as community members: criminal sexual psychopath and sodomy statutes, child custody disputes, adoption and foster care regulations, school curricular standards, state anti-discrimination laws, hate crimes protections, and marriage regulations. By connecting debates in cities and towns around the country, where social movement activism influenced municipal laws and community norms, she crafts a national account of legal change that shows how incremental shifts at the state and local levels radically reformulated American law.
After receiving her JD from Columbia Law School in 2007, Marie-Amélie worked as a prosecutor at the Miami State Attorney’s Office and as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York. Marie-Amélie also holds a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford, where she was awarded a distinction on her thesis, which traced the origins of sex reassignment surgeries to Germany’s early twentieth century gay rights movement and its efforts to decriminalize consensual sodomy. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University in 2003, majoring in Comparative Studies between the Middle East and Europe.
Marie-Amélie has published articles in the Alabama Law Review, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Law and History Review, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, and the National Black Law Journal. She has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships, including the Mellon /ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Research Fellowship, and Cornell University’s Phil Zwickler Memorial Research Grant.